Don't worry, I haven't forgotten you, even though it's been nearly a fortnight since our last update - practically a lifetime in the Coronavirus world.
I firmly believe in not having a "weekly update" for the sake of it, when there's nothing to update you on. Because your inbox is busy enough, and this isn't a marketing push.
There have however been some updates which may have snuck under the radar, so here's a review of the last ten days' news...
Bounce Back Loans - Mainly Good News!
This is the scheme aimed at getting small loans to small businesses quickly and easily, after the CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) proved so cumbersome for the smallest firms.
Overall, these have been a success, especially with the high street banks who already have solid the systems in place to offer business loans quickly. Barclays, however, have had some flack for not being able to cope with demand and the 'challenger banks' and peer-to-peer lenders really don't seem up to the job. Although in fairness, it's not what their business model was designed for.
For those who have had their applications approved, we're seeing the money arrive within 48 hours. 👍 However, I've also heard people struggling to get a BBL approved with their usual bank so it's not all plain sailing.
There is obviously much frustration for those with loans declined. The banks need to satisfy themselves that pre-CV19 the business was sound (i.e. it's not just a blank cheque from the govt) but if you've been unfairly rejected please let me know and we can perhaps look at why.
At Starling Bank, the shit really hit the fan last week, as they struggled with demand and this culminated in them moving to a total freeze on applications. However the really criminal act was (allegedly) to decline about 25% of applications just to clear their backlog, including approx 2,000 loans which had already been approved but not paid out 😭
You know I always harp on about how important it is to have a separate business account from your personal account. With the BBLs the loan can only be paid to businesses with a separate business bank account. This doesn't mean, of course, that you can't set one up now (if there's a bank taking on new customers...) to access the loan.
Many banks aren't taking on new customers and, if we're honest about it, I don't see that changing any time soon - these BBLs are fixed at 2.5% and are for relatively small amounts. Frankly, it's not where the banks are going to be able to make the chunkiest profits.
Equipment for Home Working
Not too exciting, but if you need to purchase equipment for your staff who are working from home (computer equipment, desks, a broadband connection etc) then you can do so without worrying about whether it's a Benefit In Kind, or dealing with P11Ds.
The business can claim Capital Allowances and of course reclaim the VAT (if VAT reg'd), with no BIK tax charge. This runs until the end of the 2020/21 tax year.
This is a rather pleasant "common sense" measure from the govt.
Plus ça Change with the Furlough Scheme
Two weeks ago, the chancellor confirmed an extension of the furlough scheme in its current form to July, and there would be a "cost sharing" excercise from August to October.
I've heard absolutely nothing more on that since, I'm sorry to say.
However it is clear that the scheme will be aimed at bringing back staff on a slowly-slowly basis AND the cost of furloughing staff will start to move towards employers.
In other words (and this is the elephant in the room): if the current scheme isn't going to carry on past the end of July - just 2 months away - do you need to be having a frank conversation with your fellow directors/business partners about redundancies, at least so you know what your options are?
Statutory Sick Pay
Back in March, the govt promised that SSP was payable to those from day 1 (rather than day 4) where someone had suspected CV19 symptoms. That was good for employees, but remember SSP is footed by employers - the govt don't normally reimburse it.
They did, however, agree they WOULD pay for CV19-related SSP for small employers. This CANNOT be done through the usual payroll process but is a wholly separate claim, just like the Furlough Claims.
The portal opens on Tuesday!!! 🥳🎉
(Obviously, it'll crash a few times, you'll need your govt gateway account and so on).
I won't bore you with the details and eligibility criteria here, suffice to say IF THIS IS YOU, get in touch and we can talk you through the options.